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K-State Today

January 24, 2012

Partnership for success: University Commercialization Institute provides expertise across state, region

Submitted by Communications and Marketing

When it comes to capitalizing on potential, Kansas State University is sealing the deal with big names in and around Kansas.

Wichita State University and Kansas City, Mo.-based MRIGlobal, formerly the Midwest Research Institute, have partnered with the Kansas State University Institute for Commercialization, a marketing arm of the university that specializes in the monetization of both capabilities and intellectual property. These partnerships explore research opportunities in aerospace, renewable energy and technology.

After learning of the institute's ongoing successes, Wichita State approached the institute about marketing its intellectual property portfolio. In January 2010 the institute formally committed to a working relationship with Wichita State. This commitment allowed the institute to market Wichita State's technology, giving the university the ability to lean on the institute for advice and direction while developing internal policies and procedures.

"The teamwork between top Kansas schools is only the beginning of what higher education institutions can accomplish together," said Kansas State University President Kirk Schulz. "Our partnership with Wichita State has been a great way to share our strengths and strive for success. Having the opportunity to work with Wichita State and MRIGlobal will provide us with the resources needed to become a nationally recognized top 50 public research university by 2025."

The partnership has already enhanced both Kansas universities. Wichita State now has the institute's capabilities to efficiently identify commercially valuable technologies within the university, and it has access to a network of industry contacts developed for more than a decade by the Kansas State University Institute for Commercialization.

Kansas State University also has benefited from the alliance. The institute receives an annual fee for its services, along with a percentage of the revenue generated as a result of the signed license. The money is directly reinvested in the university and regional economy.

"This relationship allows two outstanding universities to utilize their separate capabilities in collaboration to advance them both," said Kent Glasscock, Kansas State University Institute for Commercialization president. "This partnership is truly unique within the country."

With the help of the institute, Wichita State was able to sign its first royalty-bearing agreement in its history as a result of a patent. Dwight Buford, director of the Advanced Joining and Processing Laboratory at Wichita State's National Institute for Aviation Research, developed the technology, an effector that uses stir friction in welding to connect metals. The aviation and automotive industries could use the environmentally friendly technology to decrease the amount of flaws or defects that transpire while fusion welding.

Less than a year after joining the partnership with Wichita State, the Kansas State University Institute for Commercialization also signed a partnership with one of the nation's leading research institutes in MRIGlobal. Similar to the institute, MRIGlobal is a not-for-profit organization that specializes in technical services for the government and industry. MRIGlobal concentrates on such research areas as energy, environment and agriculture.

MRIGlobal partnered with the institute to advance the commercialization of a particular group of its innovations.

"MRI is excited to work with the Kansas State University Institute for Commercialization to commercialize more of our technologies,” said Tom Fleener, MRI chief financial officer. “The institute's knowledgeable and dedicated team complements MRI's innovative environment. We are confident that the results of our relationship will be valued by the marketplace.”

Glasscock said, "The MRIGlobal partnership provided great strength in animal health, and its high security research will be pivotal to Kansas State University as National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility research transfers to our Biosecurity Research Institute. Together, the capabilities of Kansas State University, MRIGlobal and NBAF will firmly establish the university as the epicenter of high security animal health research in the world."